Student takes Detour on Way to Degree

Posted January 29, 2024, 3:39PM

Between high school and NCCU, Michael Lorca-Wynter has done more than most college students.

Raised in Miami, Florida, Lorca-Wynter says he was an indifferent student in high school.

“School at the time wasn’t all that interesting,” Lorca-Wynter said. “I was more focused on athletics.”

He played football, wrestled – he placed in a statewide competition – and shot put. When he graduated in 2014, Lorca-Wynter had dreams of playing in the NFL or least in college football. The latter came true when Alderson Broaddus University in West Virginia offered him a partial athletic scholarship.

“I had a great time playing football for two years,” Lorca-Wynter said. “Then I took a break from school.”

His older brother had gained a job as a “beer hawker,” at concerts and music festivals and major sporting events. His brother asked Lorca-Wynter to join him.

For the next year, Lorca-Wynter and his brother traveled around the United States, visiting about 25 states. His older brother was sometimes able to get him into events including a couple football games, the Electric Daisy Carnival (an electronic dance festival) in Las Vegas and a Rolling Stones concert.

After a year, Lorca-Wynter had a conversation with his father. “He told me I need to get serious about my life,” Lorca-Wynter said. “He was an immigrant to this country and had joined the U.S. Army in his 30s. It sounded cool. I wanted to serve my country as well.”

So, he enlisted. He underwent basic training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina and advanced training at Fort Hauchuca in southeast Arizona, about 15 miles north of the Mexican border.

“I joined the army to see the world and the government had other plans,” Lorca-Wynter said. He was based at Fort Liberty (formerly Fort Bragg) in North Carolina near Fayetteville where he worked as a military intelligence analyst.

While he enjoyed the work, after four years he decided it was time for a change. “I wanted an actual career and not just to be a soldier all my life,” Lorca-Wynter said.

After an honorable discharge in September 2023, Lorca-Wynter enrolled at North Carolina Central University, (NCCU) where he is majoring in business with a concentration in financial analytics. He has continued his military service in the army reserves.

“I always wanted to go to a HBCU,” he said. “I’ve learned a lot about Black history and Black culture.”

Lorca-Wynter’s goal is to become a financial analyst in the corporate world.

Now a junior at the age of 28, Lorca-Wynter looks back at his life with no regret.

“My experiences have made me the person I am,” he said. “I wouldn’t trade any of those experiences for anything else.”

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